The fuselage was based on the ubiquitous "ball cockpit" of the TIE Series of Imperial starfighters, with a Sienar ion drive pod mounted on the rear, but stemming from the junction of cockpit and drive pod were two pairs of curving wings which thrust out like an X-wing's strike-foils, and then extended forward in a claw-like grip around the cockpit. At the tip of each wing was a Sienar L-s7.2 laser cannon.
With modest deflector shields and thicker hull armor, Clawcraft were slower at sublight speeds than their TIE/LN starfighter progenitors, although the ion engines allowed the ship to achieve an atmospheric speed of 1,000 kilometers per hour, and a respectable sublight acceleration of almost forty thousand meters per second squared.
Clawcraft made up for their lower sublight speed by greater maneuverability. Each curved wing could make minor position adjustments and was paired with a mounted control jet to allow a Clawcraft's pilot to throw the ship into sharp turns and complex maneuvers.
A unique hyperspace beacon system allowed a Clawcraft to make lightspeed jumps without an on-board navigation computer, enabling it to function as a long-range craft while significantly reducing the weight, size and complexity of non-combat equipment carried.
But the starfighter's dependence on navigational data transmitted from a nexus of anchor points also restricted the area in which most Clawcraft could operate. For long-range deployment, ships of this class typically had to travel with specialist beacon ships, until about 28 ABY, when new variants began to enter service that featured on-board navicomps for the first time, as well as warhead launchers.
Clawcraft fighters had been produced for some time before the Empire under the reign of Galactic Emperor Palpatine began sharing technology with the Chiss Ascendancy, an action initiated by the Chiss Imperial Thrawn. Models of Clawcraft began incorporating TIE design cues as part of the joint venture.
By 19 ABY, pilots from the Household Phalanx were using long-range scout vessels combining TIE cockpits and drives with alien technology in a manner similar to these Chiss-Imperial Clawcraft.
The Nssis-class was revealed to the wider galaxy in 26 ABY, when three squadrons of Chiss pilots from the Household Phalanx fought at Garqi and Ithor where they were commanded by Commander Jagged Fel. A part of this force continued to fight alongside Rogue Squadron until at least the battle of Kalarba, and after the fall of Coruscant.
The Chiss force returned to their home territory until Commander Jagged Fel convinced Baron Fel to allow him to take a scout force to further determine the danger posed by the Yuuzhan Vong. This led to Commander Fel and Shawnkyr Nuruodo to deploy in a a wing-pair of Household Phalanx Clawcraft where they participated in operations in the Hapes Cluster. Commander Fel's group were later joined by several squadrons of combat pilots that formed Vanguard Squadron at the time. The two Clawcraft also fought alongside the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances with Twin Suns Squadron until the end of the war.
A few Nssis-class ships were seen in Chiss space in 29 ABY, by which time political developments in the Unknown Regions had led to Baron Fel becoming Assistant Syndic of the CEDF; but it was not until the clashes with the Killik Colony in 36 ABY and 38 ABY that the familiar Clawcraft categorically appeared in large numbers in CEDF forces.